Thanksgiving’s a time to make some memories
Thanksgiving doesn’t receive the weeks of runup that the two major holidays that bookend it—Halloween and Christmas—do each year. You don’t see most people festooning their homes with Thanksgiving decorations in the November weeks leading up to the fourth Thursday of that month.
It would be weird to see a bunch of homes with turkeys and pilgrims on their front lawns. You see some around, and I certainly don’t begrudge them, but in the aggregate, Thanksgiving is a far more chill holiday than Halloween and Christmas.
Mostly you sit, and eat, maybe play some games and watch football.
You don’t have to buy a costume, walk around town getting candy, shop for presents and wrap them, or any other heavy lifting.
All in all, Thanksgiving’s a pretty good deal.
In Hammonton, where so many longstanding residents are married to other longstanding residents, the answer to the question “Where are you having Thanksgiving?” is usually answered with either a local name or a local street.
For years I have received strange looks when I answer that question with the two words “New York” because people assume I’m having the dinner locally. I haven’t in years. It’s fun to make the trip northward, although there are some differences.
Most notably, at my in-laws, they don’t watch football on Thanksgiving. One year I staged a revolution and turned on a game, and two older male relatives couldn’t believe it. They stuck their heads into the room where football was on the TV, then sat down to watch. They were like teenagers who thought they were getting away with something!
The food’s always good at my in-laws. People bring different dishes, and my mother-in-law, Louise will make a green bean casserole just for me. Before you say I’m receiving special treatment, let me be clear: I am the only one who likes green bean casserole, so while I feel special that she has it for me, she literally has it just for me.
Last year, the novel coronavirus kept us apart at Thanksgiving. It was a difficult time, particularly for Hammontonians, who don’t need the excuse of a major holiday to bring their entire extended family together (see Sunday dinners). Being apart was difficult, and this year, the sense is people are going to gather together on the holiday.
It’s good news.
Humans are a social bunch, and holidays provide a reason to take a break from our hectic lives and just sit and talk and eat with those who are closest to us. I have enjoyed watching this concept of “Friendsgiving” take hold—you know, the event where friends come together and share a meal before or after the actual holiday? It transfers the bonds of the family Thanksgiving Dinner to friends.
It’s an outstanding concept, just another way to bring people together to take a moment, break bread together—or perhaps a wishbone—and just enjoy being in each other’s company.
Thanksgiving unites us all. There is great comfort in the simple fact that people throughout America will take some time on November 25, or during the weekend, to come together for a few hours, eat some food, watch some football (if it’s OK with their hosts) and tell some stories about Thanksgivings past.
Look around the table this Thanksgiving at your loved ones. Be thankful for the ones who are sitting there with you and cherish the memories of the ones who aren’t.
Most importantly, remember to give thanks. Gratitude is always welcome, but never more so than on the day named for it. Happy Thanksgiving.
Gabe Donio is the publisher of The Hammonton Gazette.